Lichfield Canal Heritage Towpath Trail

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Points of Interest

© 2016 Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust

The ancient conduit was first established in 1301 to provide a water supply from springs at Aldershaw to Lichfield. It crosses under the canal in a culvert constructed in  c.1794.


partly accessible

Distance from Catshill

Distance from Huddlesford

Read more in ‘Water Tower’ on Lichfield Lore.

Some detailed history of public services in Lichfield can be found at
British History Online.

Ancient Conduit Lands Trust Pipe crossing

On canal line

Relative Position

Restoration phase

Photo:   View from the culvert canal crossing across the field  up the line of the pipe to the conduit head which is located in the woodland near the top of the hill.

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Trail Map 5

July 1301  Henry Bellfounder granted the Fraciscans of Lichfield Springs at Foulwell near Alershaw with the right to build a stone conduit head there and to pipe the water to the Friary (Lichfield) about 1/2 mile away. It has been suggested this original pipe was made of wood, either Alder or Elderberry but was upgraded at some time later from wood to lead pipe.

1550  The owner of Foulwell granted the spring  there to the Corporation at a rent of 4d (1.6p) per year.

1660  The Conduit Lands Trustees has taken over the payment of the Foulwell rent.

1664  The lead pipes of the of conduit were dug up by the Parliamentarian soldiers to provide musket balls.

1666   Appointed a plumber to maintain conduit head, pipes, cisterns and cocks for life at a salary of £6 a year raised to £10 a year in 1774.

1793  Conduit Lands Trustees agree to construction of the Wyrley & Essington Canal over the conduit incorporated into a culvert below the bed of the canal.

1805  The lead pipes between Aldershaw and Crucifix Conduit were replaced with Cast Iron Pipes with 3 inch bore. The cast iron pipes were supplied by Butterleys of Derby and were transported by canal and off loaded in Lichfield at Gallows Wharf.

1826 - 1831  The lead pipes were replaced with larger 4 inch lead pipes.

1842   Conduit Lands Trust income increased from royalties from canal and rail companies for land taken.

1868   Aldershaw yielding 15,000 gallons/day.

1930   Aldershaw main diverted in Lichfield into one of the South Staffs Waterworks companies headings.

2009    Local unconfirmed report of lead (musket) balls and a hearth were found near the old Lock 19 and the site of the new rail bridge over the Lichfield Southern Bypass during construction activities.

Today    The water still flows from  the Aldershaw conduit heads down a 7 inch pipe under the Lichfield Canal into Lichfield.  The headwall of the culvert under the canal through which the ancient Water Supply Pipe/Conduit passes is visible on the side of the towpath at the foot of the canal embankment on the south side.

The Conduit Lands Trust continues to function as a charity.

Ancient Lichfield Conduit Water Supply from Aldershaw - Time Line

Compiled by Peter Buck

Photo: A fountain near the Library marks the approximate site of the original Lichfield Crucifix public conduit.

Photo: The original headwall to the culvert under the towpath and canal, viewed from above.

Photo: A drawing by R.Tremberth of the entrance to the Aldershaw conduit headings at the top of the hill.  

Photo:  a marked up map of the route of the Ancient water supply marked up with the Rail Line and line of the Lichfield Canal  (or Wyrley & Essington Canal )

Click to enlarge.